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Newsletter October 22, 2001

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Helping the fight against terrorism: intelligent robots

The events of 11 September 2001 proved that terrorists have adopted deadly new strategies: terrifyingly well organized, they were able to escape the attention of the various intelligence agencies during their preparation. Now, a race against time is underway to develop artificial intelligence-based technology to help effectively combat terrorism.

An American company based in Georgia is currently developing artificial intelligence software, called KARNAC, that it claims will be able to predict terrorist attacks. Once its development is finished, it will be capable of analysing the contents of public and private databases and identifying suspicious activities. 'Applied System Intelligence', the creators of KARNAC, say that if such a system had existed a few years ago, it would have been able to predict the bomb attack in Oklahoma City and, probably, the disaster at the World Trade Center.

Thinking up imaginative technological barriers to terrorism is not limited to the United States. Precarn, an Ottawa-based firm, wants to use an artificial intelligence-based system to improve Canadian transport security by taking into account traffic and weather conditions. The advantage is its ability to process a colossal amount of information in just a few minutes and suggest suitable action to be taken. Useful on a day-in, day-out basis, this kind of system could also be used in crisis situations to give advice about how to react to unfolding emergencies.

Artificial intelligence will not only be useful following a conflict: it could also become an essential feature of warfare itself. The US army is already testing software robots that would be able to identify and present targets for their human superiors. The software, known as Control of Agent-Based Systems(CoABS) uses "agents" with artificial intelligence to review thousands of images and other data in order to identify viable targets.


> Agent "assistants"
There are many other types of agents that exist on the Internet. In this part, we describe some of those that can, in one way or another, assist your search activities on a network.


> Morpheus: file sharing like you've never seen before
It searches for online music, video, images and much more. It automatically organizes your downloads and puts them in the appropriate folders. It scans thousands of computers throughout the world looking for the file that you need: Morpheus is a highly effective file sharing agent.

> Newsline: hot news!
Newsline is an agent which will keep you posted about the latest news, 24 hours a day. Published by BBC Online, it allows information addicts to be regularly informed about events all around the world.


>> Chatterbots <<

> Alice wins again!
The chatterbot Alice has won the Loebner Prize for the second time. The program triumphed in this annual chatterbot competition to find the computer with the best conversational skills. The judges had to chat via text to both chatterbot programs and humans and try to work out who was man and who was machine. While no computer ranked higher overall than the human participants, one judge did consider Alice to be a better conversationalist than one of the humans!

>> E-mail <<

> Cyber-Info Email Notify
Cyber-Info Email Notify is an e-mail notification utility that can check multiple POP3accounts as well as, HotMail, Yahoo Mail and other Webmail Servers. You can then launch an external mail reader or quickly view, delete and send e-mail without having to load your full e-mail package.

>> File sharing <<

> KaZaA
Apparently untroubled by the majors' legal attacks in the USA, KaZaA is extending its service to the Linux community. Even if the "alpha" version currently available remains very limited compared to its Windows counterpart, this initiative shows KaZaA's determination to keep building its file-sharing community, which is already one of the largest on the Net at the moment.

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> WeatherAloud
WeatherAloud is the talking software that reads you weather forecasts and conditions aloud from over 7500 locations worldwide. It's like having a personal weatherman at your service. You can build a personal list of forecasts that interest you, customize each one to meet your needs, and program WeatherAloud to get automatic weather updates from around the world.


> Intelligent pyjamas could prevent cot deaths
A new type of baby pyjamas, developed by the Belgian company Verhaert Design and Development and the University of Brussels (ULB), could help in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), commonly known as cot death.
Called "Mamagoose pyjamas", the babysuit has five special sensors positioned over the breast and stomach, to monitor the infant's heartbeat and respiration. This double sensor system gives a high level of measuring precision. The special sensors are actually built into the cloth and have no direct contact with the body, thus creating no discomfort for the baby.

> Citizen and IBM for a wearable computer
Citizen Watch Co. will work with IBM Research to commercialise IBM's wristwatch PC. Yuzo Shirazaki, director of Citizen's watch movement division, said the Watchpad platform will enable new human-machine applications. The watch features a 320 x 240-dot monochrome VGA display, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, an IrDA wireless link, plus speaker, microphone and fingerprint-sensor functions.

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